Fiona Graham’s life was all about career progression once. She moved to Ireland from Glasgow 15 years ago to run an IT firm; she was even nominated as a Businesswoman of the Year. But, she always loved writing, so she decided to trade in the relatively un-glamorous world of IT for a chance to be a scriptwriter and film producer.
“I’ve always written and it’s what I’ve always wanted to do. I guess the producing side was where I really applied the business skills, but in my spare time, when I was running the IT business, I was always writing,” she says.
Fiona has now written and produced a feature film set in Galway called ‘Songs for Amy’. The film has just won the award for ‘Outstanding Achievement’ at the Newport Beach Film Festival, where such prestigious films as ‘Crash’, and ‘Layer Cake’ have premièred. Not bad work for her and director Konrad Begg’s first feature film.
“We were quite surprised about how well the film was received over there. I think there was always going to be some anticipation as to how the American audience were going to react to the film. And there’s a lot of humour in it; we were wondering whether it was going to transfer or not, but it did, so we were thrilled!” she says.
‘Songs for Amy’ stars Seán Maguire, Patrick Bergin, ‘Game of Thrones’ star James Cosmo and British hellraisers, Alabama 3, as themselves.
“It’s about a musician who writes an album for the girl he was supposed to marry, and he does that because he has completely messed up with her,” says Fiona.
“It’s really about the journey of writing those songs and where the songs come from, so each song brings you into a point in their relationship.”
The film’s songs were penned by songwriters Jim McKee and Loughrea’s Ultan Conlon. “We were really incredibly lucky with musicians, because I met Ultan and Jim around the same time and their music is quite similar, so we were able to combine that and make it a realistic sound for Seán,” recalls Fiona.
Viewers expecting a saccharine, overly sentimental love story, along the lines of ‘PS I Love You’, are in for something of a shock, as the lead character’s bandmates are on hand to lend some well-placed comic relief, and Fiona’s script has not spared the sex, drugs and rock and roll either.
“We wanted it to be as authentic as possible and so the rock and roll lifestyle had to be as real as possible,” she says. “We were working with Alabama 3, and they kind of played themselves, so they were able to give us some good training as to how that goes down!”
The film, she says, was inspired by Galway. “The idea for the story was kind of inspired by the place and the character more than anything else, and it was always going to be filmed here. When you watch the film, you know that it couldn’t really take place anywhere else.”
The film is entered into a number of European festivals, while an Irish première at the Galway Film Fleadh awaits in July. Fiona is also looking for a suitable distributor to bring ‘Songs for Amy’ to a wider audience.
“The film is kind of taking us rather than us taking the film at this point. It’s an exciting time.”
The Galway Film Fleadh runs from 10 July to 15 July. For more information, visit www.galwayfilmfleadh.com.